For five days between December 23 and 27, people across can mix in a Christmas bubble of up to three households – but only in a private house, a place of worship or outdoor public spaces.
Restrictions will continue to apply to pubs, restaurants and the wider hospitality sector, which describes the rules as likely to “cause unnecessary pain and irreversible damage”.
Scientists and doctors were also unhappy with Christmas plans, with UK Medical Association chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul saying: ‘This virus does not discriminate against certain days of the year .
“Relaxing the rules on indoor mixing for a five-day period will almost certainly carry the risk of an increased rate of infection and possibly more hospitalizations and deaths, adding additional strain on the ward.” health, doctors and NHS staff. ”
Dr Nagpaul said it is “absolutely vital” for people to take safety precautions when mixing with other households, such as ventilating rooms and limiting physical contact when masks are not worn.
Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), told the BBC that easing Christmas restrictions “add fuel to the COVID fire”.
“We are still in a country where we have high levels of COVID infection, especially among young people. Reuniting them for hours, let alone days, with elderly parents, I think, is a recipe for regret for many families.
“With the vaccine on the way, if we’re not very careful at Christmas, we really risk snatching defeat from the jaws of victory over this one. ”
The managing director of the British Beer and Pub Association said the Christmas plans “make a mockery of the additional restrictions placed on pubs and the economic devastation they are suffering this Christmas”.
Emma McClarkin asked, “How come pubs can’t open properly when households can mingle in private places?”
“It appears the government has chosen to inflict unnecessary suffering and irreversible damage on our industry without releasing any evidence alongside these decisions. ”
Kate Nicholls, Managing Director of UKHospitality, added: “The fact that the government is excluding these businesses in these new rules demonstrates muddled thinking and will cause further harm to the industry so soon after the new tier restrictions are announced. ”
And Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said the government had “snatched the remnants of the Christmas spirit from the hands of many companies in the industry.”
He warned: “The government was just wrong. It is a dreadful error in judgment at such an important time of the year for everyone. ”
:: Subscribe to the daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker
Government figures showed a further 608 people died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the UK total to 55,838.
11,299 other laboratory-confirmed coronavirus cases have also been reported, the lowest figure since early October.
Meanwhile, the PM could face backlash from some of his own MPs on the measures planned from December 2, when England’s current lockdown ends.
Many MPs fear that most of the country will be subject to Tier 2 and 3 restrictions, ahead of official confirmation on Thursday.
A government source told Sky News: “I wouldn’t be surprised if no area [in England] ended up at level 1. ”
The Daily Mail said Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, was among those unhappy, saying he was “inclined” to oppose the measures in a vote next week because he feared that the economic damage leaves a “legacy with which we could live for years to come”.